Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Memories of Snow Falls Past
We are bracing ourselves for THE BIG ONE. If this is the Big One what was that last week? A pre-tuner? Larger than eight inches? Now I thoroughly understand the meaning of White Death.
Snow surrounds me. Everywhere I look there is the dullish blue white carpet of snow. It continues to fall occasionally in a lazy manner, like a drunken ballerina. Gentle flurries. If I did not have to drive in it, I would be smitten with its dazzling beauty.
The angelic beauty of the newly fallen snow takes me back to those of years long ago when I was in grammar school in the 1960's. It seemed to snow more back in those childhood memories. At the bedtime prayer we would bow our heads. We would pray fervently and with great passion for a severe snow storm. We would rise earlier than usual and sit at the breakfast table, ears glued and focused on the early morning radio talk show...Artie Kay... and continue with our prayers with fingers crossed. He would read off the list of school closings. Our county, which begins with the letter "W" was always at the end. The list would be agonizingly long and cause us to lose hope...then finally, when it seemed nature had turned her back on us, it would be announced, "No School"! We would run up the stairs and tumble back into bed and give thanks that God answered our prayers! I was always especially thankful, because I was known to not complete homework on the gamble of ice and snow.
A snow day was akin to an unexpected holiday. The whole neighborhood would come out dressed in their snow clothes. Make shift snow suits of double pants, mittens pinned to the coat, double layered sweaters and sweat shirts, knitted scarfs and hats, black rubber boots that had heavy buckles up the front.
We all had sleds back in those days! We would head towards the hill on Kilmer Drive which had a steep incline that extended a good block and landed you at the bottom where it connected with the busy cross street of Douglas Ave. The more bodies you piled on a sled, the faster you plummeted down the slope. We would sit behind each other and lock together. The last person would push until they got a good speed going then fling themselves on the back. The person up front had to steer not only with the ropes attached to the cross bar, but also with their feet!
Down the hill we would plunge, gaining speed at a reckless and break neck intensity, screaming and laughing as we hung on for dear life. The cross street, Douglas, would appear all too soon adding the element of danger to the excitement. It was necessary for the driver to maneuver towards one of the side yards to break the downward charge. If not, it was certain death and destruction to shoot out into the traffic of Douglas Ave.
It was not uncommon to dismount as the sled was moving at 60 mph (at least!!!) by flinging oneself off the out of control sled! Many a time the empty sled would shoot into traffic. My youngest brother Patrick, who was probably around four then, would not give it up and hung on as it crossed the street and plowed into the front porch of the house on the other side of Douglas! I vividly remember being alarmed thinking he could have been creamed and worse (!) what trouble the rest of us would be in. We more than likely beat him up a little for being so fool hardy. Hard to hurt a kid who has ten inches of clothes layered on them.
Those memories come back to me on days like today, with the snow beginning to fall and thoughts of slick hazardous roads play in my head. The above photo is from my High School Days. Nothing changed much from grammar school till then. I still prayed, I still did not complete my homework and I still ran to the nearest hillside with a sled. We still piled on and careened down snowy slopes!
Finding this picture, I thought it would be so much fun to gather the participants and see if we could still all fit on the sled? I, for one, know that if I were to jump on top of the pile (on Gayle), Howie (on bottom) would meet with instant death, not by treacherous cross street, but by the menacing memories of middle age.